8th December 2015 at 15:00 #452572
Anonymous8th December 2015 at 15:00 #452573
I am not exactly IT illiterate, I have been a web developer for 15 years but I am human and humans do make mistake occasionally.
Yesterday, I unfortunately did 2 mistakes, the first one was to decide to book a hotel on lastminute.com, the second one was to enter the wrong dates for my booking, it never happened before.
As a normal human being I just thought that just calling them to amend the dates would fix the situation, I was very wrong, I had no clue about the type of people I was dealing with.
The first problem is that they seem to outsource their customer support to India, bless the indians who have their own problems there, but many of us are struggling to understand clearly the accent and it is particularly difficult to have a one to one conversation with people who have been trained to react like robots using list of pre-determined scripts and scenarios.
Anyway, after 30 minutes on the phone I was told to call the hotel and that they will sort it out. I called the hotel and they told me that lastminute.com only could amend the dates. So I called back lastminute.com and guess what they told me to call back the hotel. I called the hotel for the second time and was told that actually lastminute.com proxy their booking through Expedia and that I had to call Expedia, nightmare scenario.
Tired of explaining my story to scripted robots, I decided to explain my situation using the lastminute.com contact form, explaining that I wasn’t asking for a refund but just for a change of dates or a voucher or anything really. I had spent £130 to book a hotel as a Christmas present for my partner and was shocked to realize there was no willingness from their part or gesture of goodwill to assist with the situation.
This is the reply I had from lastminute.com:
“Thank you for your email today about your hotel booking. I have checked the policy on your hotel booking and it states that your booking is non-changeable and non-refundable. So we cannot cancel or make any changes to the booking. There will not be any refund for the cancellation of the booking. I am sorry to disappoint you.”
Those companies are trading “within the law” but the law has nothing to do with moral and the fact is that they don’t care about their customers and not all companies are like that, I have left very positive reviews for many businesses. As an individual I unfortunately cannot do much to compensate that “legal thievery” but what I can do is to review them on as many popular review websites as I can and it will be done.
A little advice, stay away from lastminute.com and middle men in general, they are legal but morally they are rogue traders, they can get away with murder because they’ve been opted out of the “distance selling regulations”, book directly from hotels or travel agencies, don’t give a chance to those predators to rob you.8th December 2015 at 15:31 #452574
I agree – the middlemen are always (without exception in my experience) an absolute disaster when it comes to problem solving.
Whilst I understand their point of view, I strongly believe that the reservations team at the hotel, if booked directly, would have quickly transferred your payment to an alternative date, understanding that human error occurs.
Opodo are my biggest bugbear. Never ever again will i use their miserable services.
Anyway, I hope you have managed to rebook the correct dates, Have a fun trip.8th December 2015 at 15:31 #452575
The last time this happened to me was an online booking with ba.com for a flight where I missed the date by 1 month (it was meant to be an overnight trip). I was forced to buy another ticket with another airline as BA did not fly that route on that day!
I have much sympathy with your hotel booking. Out of interest, what was the time period between booking and realising you had booked the wrong date?8th December 2015 at 15:39 #452576
It’s worth remembering these middleman operations work on tiny margins and try to automate as much as possible. They don’t really have customer service as we would hope to see it and as a consequence the people on the phone are simply following scripts and trying to get people to go away as fast as possible.8th December 2015 at 16:01 #452577
@Charles-P – 08/12/2015 15:39 GMT
I wouldn’t be so conciliatory as their margins aren’t so thin. OTA’s and 3rd parties charge hotels enormous commission. Being in the lodging industry I can assure you major hotel chains are paying usually around 16% to 18% depending on where they appear on the page, rate, etc. Smaller operators such as myself can pay nearly 20% and that wont knock a big brand off their positioning on the first pages (consumers hate to scroll down). These OTA’s and 3rd party sites hold the cards at the moment, which is why so many hotel companies are trying to get people to book directly through their own websites. The only advantage with OTA’s is the ability to shop and compare, but that is a big advantage to the consumer.8th December 2015 at 16:42 #452578
‘dutchyankee’ – thanks for that, I had not realised the percentage take was so high. In that case the customer service offered by many of them is all the more poor !
This only reinforces my view that a quality business travel company is money well spent.8th December 2015 at 17:32 #452579
I too have made a mistake, by booking the wrong date on a non changeable hotel booking. It was Hotels.com, and after a quick phone call to a human, they changed the date and I paid a small fee, rate variance, job done. Booking.com and hotels.com in my experience are good, I would not use lastminute.com, read a lot of bad revierws on flight bookings etc.9th December 2015 at 01:56 #452580
This is one reason why I always book direct with the hotel sites, i have dropped the ball a few times and by contacting the hotel directly always resolved the issue. I have only used Last minute for sourcing and comparison9th December 2015 at 07:56 #452581
One of the worst commission wise in Booking.com as they charge the highest commission, however on the plus side, they are the only site that the only way you can make a review of a hotel is if you had actually booked the hotel on their site. This is better than TripAdvisor as anyone can make any review even if they haven’t stayed at a property. Plenty of questionable reviews are on TripAdvisor so I would advise not believing all you read on their site.9th December 2015 at 08:01 #452582
I’ve also had only good experiences with Booking.com and thanks to several horror stories never used the likes of Expedia, lastminute.com etc.
My MO is if booking with the chains to do so via their own websites. If using smaller hotels in towns I don’t know then I find Booking.com invaluable. After a couple of visits I look to build a relationship with the hotel director and find they will give the same rate but an upgrade or throw in breakfast if not included.
Apparently if they undercut the booking.com site they can get into trouble, and as these sites provide a good percentage of their business they can’t afford to do this.9th December 2015 at 08:13 #452583
@luganopirate – 09/12/2015 08:01 GMT
Absolutely right! With so many of us now having a best rate guarantee, we must have rate parity on the OTA’s, but then when we have to pay 18% or more you can see what it is costing us. That said, these sites are invaluable to our business. This is why so many of the larger chains offer inducements to book via their branded websites such as free breakfast, additional loyalty points, even Sofitel gives 5% discount to their members if they book on line on their site. This is much cheaper than paying the commission to the OTA’s.
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